What shall we do with the sulking failure?

by , November 29, 2004

Oh dear. It seems we have upset Joe Kinnear a bit, and now he’s threatening to take his ball home if he doesn’t get his way. In his most recent interview (how kind of him to make the effort of speaking to the press, especially after a defeat) he claims that his job is safe, but he still needs time to think about his future. It’s almost as if he’s threatening us: If you don’t stop criticising me, I’ll walk out and then look what a mess you’ll be in…

Joe KinnearUnfortunately, it’s hard to see how we could be any bigger a mess than the current one. Most supporters realise that there are many more problems at the club than just Joe Kinnear, but his management has been undoubtedly substandard this campaign. Therefore, any criticism he receives is perfectly justified.

Joe says: “I have had plenty on my mind as well. I’m wheeling and dealing and juggling a million balls but people don’t really care. They just want to see what the results are.” For someone with so much experience in football, he should realise that results are the most important thing in the game and the fans don’t really care about his circus skills. Besides, we’ve not seen much evidence of wheeling and dealing either.

He also attacks the fans for having “short memories” and forgetting that when he arrived the club was heading for relegation – we’re even further along that road now, thanks to him in no small part. He then goes on to claim that he has single-handedly brought the debt “down from £40million to £15million”. This is an absolutely ludicrous suggestion considering he hasn’t sold anybody in his time as boss except Gareth Williams and he certainly didn’t fetch £25m.

I’ve written before about Big Joe’s habit of plunging his foot straight into his wide open gob, but as the pressure on him has increased over the past few weeks, his spoutings have become more and more bizarre, more and more contradictory. While at one point he would conflict “I am sure we will be in the top ten by December; in fact I am convinced” (October 6) with “We have gone as far as we can with this team” (November 17), leaving a clear month-and-a-half between arguing with himself, now he’s able to do it in almost the same breath.

“I have got no budget so I get on with it the best I can. It has been hard, buying players for £25,000 each. Sometimes I get fed up with it but it would not make any difference whoever takes the job. There would not be any money here to build.” Not only is this a retreat from the £500,000 transfer budget he reportedly had a few weeks ago, but it also ignores the fact that he has signed Adam Nowland for £250,000 and Kris Commons for £300,000, so there clearly is money to spend.

It is perhaps pointless trying to make sense of our adipose gaffer’s ramblings as this latest outburst shows that he is losing the plot and in the process losing the support of the fans who have, until now, backed him completely, despite the side’s unacceptable league position. Instead of trying to pass on the blame and rounding on his critics, arrogantly declaring “I’m not particularly bothered what anybody else thinks because it is up to myself”, he should be demonstrating his commitment to the club and admitting that there is a situation that is his responsibility to resolve.

Given the implausible nature of his other comments, we might also have reason to disbelieve his assertion that his position is safe until the summer. He has claimed to have the backing of the chairman, but as far as I am aware, nowhere has Doughty publicly given his support for the manager (I would welcome any correction). Others have speculated that the only reason Kinnear has not been sacked yet is because the club cannot afford to pay him off. It is certainly amazing that he has not already gone given that most managers would have long since paid the price of such under-performance.

What is clear is that Joe is not a happy bunny. But instead of directing his fury toward the supporters – who have every right to level justified criticism his way but have in fact given him much backing – he should be attacking those who have created the situation that has put him under such stress. If he cannot do that, he should just keep shut. He has received a great deal of support but he has pushed it to the absolute limit with continuing bad performances and thoughtless comments in the press. By telling the fans he is “not bothered” about what people think, he might just find that we aren’t particularly bothered if he goes.